Caroline Haythornthwaite


Collaboration entails working together toward a common goal, but what is the common goal we want students to work toward in classes? What kinds of interactions and outcomes do we value as collaboration, and how do we facilitate them? This paper addresses these questions, beginning with an examination of research on groups, community, and shared cognition that inform collaboration, and then addressing what we mean when by collaboration. Three questions define the discussion: Why do we emphasize collaboration and try to engage students in collaborative activities and collaborative learning? What outcomes do we expect from collaboration in terms of how students interact, tasks are conducted, learning accomplished, and knowledge created? How does communication differ online from offline, and how does the difference affect collaboration? Each section ends with some recommendations on how to facilitate collaboration, and the paper concludes with a brief summary and some key concepts for facilitating collaborative activity.


Collaboration,Engagement,Knowledge Creation,Facilitation

Full Text:



Aviv, R. Educational performance of ALN via content analysis. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 4(2): 53–72, 2000.

Garrison, D. R., and T. Anderson. E-learning in the 21st Century: A Framework for Research and Practice. RoutledgeFalmer, NY: 2003.

Gunawardena, C. N., C. A. Low, and T. A. Anderson. Analysis of global online debate and the development of an interaction analysis model for examining social construction of knowledge in computer conferencing. Journal of Educational Computing Research 17(4): 397–431, 1997.

Haythornthwaite, C. and M. M. Kazmer. (Eds.) Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice. NY: Peter Lang: 2004.

Haythornthwaite, C., M. M. Kazmer, J. Robins, and S. Shoemaker. Community development among distance learners: Temporal and technological dimensions. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 6(1): 2000. Online: http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol6/issue1/haythornthwaite.html.

Hiltz, S. R. Collaborative Learning in Asynchronous Learning Networks: Building Learning Communities. “Web98” Orlando: Florida, 1998. Online: http://web.njit.edu/~hiltz/collaborative_learning_in_asynch.htm.

Ruhleder, K. and M. Twidale. Reflective collaborative learning on the web: Drawing on the master class, First Monday 5(5): 2000. Online: http://firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_5/ruhleder/index.html.

Argyle, M. Cooperation in working groups. Cooperation: The Basis of Sociability, 115–131. London: Rutledge, 1991.

Koschmann, T. (Ed.) CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996.

Chidambaram, L. and R. P. Bostrom. Group development (I): A review and synthesis of developmental models. Group Decision and Negotiation 6(2): 59–187, 1997.

Gunawardena, C. N. and F. Zittle. Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education 11: 8–26, 1997.

McGrath, J. E. Groups, Interaction and Performance. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1984.

McGrath, J. E. Time matters in groups. In J. Galegher, R. E. Kraut and C. Egido (Eds.), Intellectual Teamwork: Social and Technological Foundations of Cooperative Work, 23–61. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990.

Argote, L. D. Gruenfeld, and C. Naquin. Group learning in organizations. In M. E. Turner (Ed.), Groups at Work: Theory and Research, 369–411. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 2001.

Wegner, D. Transactive memory: A contemporary analysis of the group mind. In B. Mullen & G. Goethals (Eds.), Theories of Group Behavior, 185-208. New York: Springer-Verlag, 1987.

Moreland, R. Transactive memory: Learning who knows what in work groups and organizations. In L. Thompson, J. Levine, and D. Messick (Eds.), Shared Cognition in Organizations, 3–31. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999.

Chidambaram, L. and R. P. Bostrom. Group development (II): Implications for GSS research and practice. Group Decision and Negotiation 6(3): 231–254, 1997.

McGrath, J. E., and A. B. Hollingshead. Groups Interacting with Technology. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1994.

Hollingshead, A. B. and N. S. Contractor. New media and organizing at the group level. In L. Lievrouw and S. Livingstone (Eds). Handbook of New Media, 221–235. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2002.

Thompson, L., J. M. Levine, and D. M. Messick (Eds.). Shared Cognition in Organizations: The Management of Knowledge. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1999.

Tuckman, B. W. Developmental sequence in small groups. Psychological Bulletin 63: 384–399, 1965.

Bregman, A. and C. Haythornthwaite. Radicals of presentation: Visibility, relation, and copresence in persistent conversation. New Media and Society 5(1): 117–140, 2003.

Cook, S. D. N, and J. S. Brown. Bridging epistemologies: The generative dance between organizational knowledge and organizational knowing. Organization Science 10(4): 381–400, 1999.

Kazmer, M. M. Beyond C U L8R: Disengaging from online social worlds. New Media and Society.

Nonaka, I. A dynamic theory of organizational knowledge creation. Organization Science 5(1): 14–37, 1994.

Orlikowski, W. J. Knowing in practice: Enacting a collective capability in distributed organizing. Organization Science 13(3): 249–273, 2002.

Klein, J. T. Interdisciplinarity: History, theory, and practice. Detroit: Wayne State University, 1990.

Brown, J. S., A. Collins, and P. Duguid. Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher 18(1): 32–42, 1989.

Resnick, L. B. J. M. Levine, and S. D. Teasdale (Eds.). Perspectives on Socially Shared Cognition. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 1991.

Klein, J. T. Crossing Boundaries: Knowledge, Disciplinarities, and Interdisciplinarities. University Press of Virginia, 1996.

National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine. Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press, 2005.

Haythornthwaite, C. Communicating Knowledge: Articulating Divides in Distributed Knowledge Practice. International Communication Assoc., New Orleans, LA, 2004.

Suchman, L. Plans and Situated Actions: The Problem of Human-Machine Communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Star, S. L. and A. Strauss. Layers of silence, arenas of voice: The ecology of visible and invisible work. CSCW 8 (1/2): 9–30, 1999.

Montague, R. and. L. C. Smith. Faculty perspectives. In C. Haythornthwaite and M. M. Kazmer (Eds.), Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice, 215–227. NY: Peter Lang, 2004.

Wenger, E. Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Wenger, E., R. McDermott, and W. M. Snyder. Cultivating Communities of Practice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

Davenport, E. and H. Hall. Organizational knowledge and communities of practice. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 36: 171–227, 2002.

Lave, J. and E. Wenger. Situated Learning: Legitimate Peripheral Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Aviv, R., Z, Erlich, G. Ravid, and A. Geva. Network analysis of knowledge construction in asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 7(3): 1–23, 2003.

Aviv, R., Z. Erlich, and G. Ravid. Response neighborhoods in online learning networks: A quantitative analysis, Educational Technology & Society 8(4): 2005.

Polhemous, L., L. F. Shih, and K. Swan. Virtual Interactivity: The Representation of Social Presence in an Online Discussion. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 2001.

Swan, K. Virtual interactivity: Design factors affecting student satisfaction and perceived learning in asynchronous online courses. Distance Education 22: 306–331, 2001.

Bruffee, K. A. Collaborative Learning: Higher Education, Interdependence, and the Authority of Knowledge. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1993.

Dede, C. J. The evolution of distance learning: Technology-mediated interactive learning. Journal of Research on Computing in Education 22(3): 247–264, 1990.

Harasim, L., S. R. Hiltz, L. Teles and M. Turoff. Learning Networks: A Field Guide to Teaching and Learning Online. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995.

Garrison, D. R. Learning Collaboration Principles. Paper presented for the Sloan-C Summer Workshop, Victoria, BC, Canada, 2005.

Jonassen, D. H. Thinking technology: Toward a constructivist design model. Educational Technology 34(4): 34–37, 2004.

Scardamalia, M. and C. Bereiter. Computer support for knowledge-building communities. In T. Koschmann (Ed.) CSCL: Theory and Practice of an Emerging Paradigm, 249–268. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, 1996.

Renninger, A., and W. Shumar (Eds.). Building Virtual Communities: Learning and Change in Cyberspace. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Riel, M. and L. Polin. Online learning communities: Common ground and critical differences in designing technical environments. In S. A. Barab, R. Kling, and J.H. Gray (Eds.). Designing for Virtual Communities in the Service of Learning, 16–50. Cambridge UK: Cambridge University Press, 2004.

Kazmer, M. M. and. C. Haythornthwaite. Juggling multiple social worlds: Distance students on and offline. American Behavioral Scientist 45(3): 510–529, 2001.

Salaff, J. Where home is the office: The new form of flexible work. In B. Wellman & C. Haythornthwaite (Eds.), The Internet in Everyday Life, 464–495. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2002.

Haythornthwaite, C. Building social networks via computer networks: Creating and sustaining distributed learning communities. In K.A. Renninger and W. Shumar, Building Virtual Communities: Learning and Change in Cyberspace, 159–190. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Daft, R. L. and R. H. Lengel. Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science 32(5): 554–571, 1986.

Perrow, C. Organizational Analysis: A Sociological View. Monterey, CA: Wadsworth, 1970.

Bransford, J. D., A. L. Brown, and R. R. Cocking (Eds.). How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School. National Academy Press: Washington, DC, 1999. Online: http://www.nap.edu/html/howpeople1/.

Haythornthwaite, C., K. J. Lunsford, G. C. Bowker, and B. Bruce. Challenges for research and practice in distributed, interdisciplinary, collaboration. To appear in C. Hine, (Ed.), New Infrastructures for Science Knowledge Production. Hershey, PA: Idea Group, forthcoming in February 2006.

Flowers, L. Talking across difference: Intercultural rhetoric and the search for situated knowledge. College Composition and Communication 55(1): 38–68, 2003.

Haythornthwaite, C., K. J. Lunsford, M. M. Kazmer, J. Robins, and M. Nazarova. The generative dance in pursuit of generative knowledge. Proceedings of the 36th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Los Alamitos, CA: IEEE Computer Society, 2003.

Cummings, J. and S. Kiesler. KDI Initiative: Multidisciplinary Scientific Collaborations, 2004. Online: http://netvis.mit.edu/papers/NSF_KDI_report.pdf.

Haythornthwaite, C. Strong, weak and latent ties and the impact of new media. The Information Society 18(5): 385–401, 2002.

Granovetter, M. S. The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology 78: 1360–1380, 1973.

Swan, K., Shen, J. & Hiltz, S. R. Assessment and collaboration in online learning. JALN 10(1): 2006.

Shen, J. Collaborative Examinations in Asynchronous Learning Networks: Field Experiments on Collaborative Learning through Online Assessments. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, Department of Information Systems, New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2005. Online: www.alnresearch.org.

Wu, D. and S. R. Hiltz. Predicting learning from asynchronous online discussions. Journal Asynchronous Learning Networks 8(2): 139–152, 2004.

Swan, K. Building learning communities in online courses: The importance of interaction. Education, Communication and Information 2(1): 23–49, 2002.

Saltz, J. S., S. R. Hiltz, M. Turoff, and K. Passerini. Measuring Student Participation in a Web-Based Environment: A Framework for Developing New Tools. Proceedings of AMCIS, 2004.

Aviv, R., Z. Erlich, and G. Ravid. Reciprocity analysis of online learning networks. In J.C. Moore (Ed.), Elements of Quality Online Education: Engaging Communities, Wisdom from the Sloan Consortium, Vol. 2 in the Wisdom Series. Needham, MA: Sloan-C, 2005.

Haythornthwaite, C. Online personal networks: Size, composition and media use among distance learners. New Media and Society 2(2): 195–226, 2000.

Haythornthwaite, C. Exploring multiplexity: Social network structures in a computer-supported distance learning class. The Information Society 17(3): 211–226, 2001.

Haythornthwaite, C., B. Wellman, and L. Garton. Work and community via computer-mediated communication. In J. Gackenbach (Ed.) Psychology of the Internet, 199–226. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Herring, S. C. Computer-mediated communication on the Internet. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 36: 109–168, 2002.

Smith, C. B., M. L. McLaughlin, K. K. Osborne. From terminal ineptitude to virtual sociopathy: Conduct control on Usenet. JCMC 2(4): 1996. Online: http:/www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol2/issue4/smith.html.

Spears, R., M. Lea, and T. Postmes. Social psychological theories of computer-mediated communication: Social pain or social gain? In W. P. Robinson and H. Giles (Eds.), New Handbook of Language and Social Psychology, 601–623. Chichester: Wiley, 2001.

Wellman, B., J. Salaff, D. Dimitrova, L. Garton, M. Gulia, and C. Haythornthwaite. Computer networks as social networks: Collaborative work, telework, and virtual community. Annual Review of Sociology 22: 213–238, 1996.

Haythornthwaite, C. and B. Wellman. Introduction: Internet in everyday life. The Internet in Everyday Life, 3–44. Oxford, UK: Blackwell, 2002.

Haythornthwaite, C. and A. Bregman. Affordances of persistent conversation: Promoting communities that work. In C. Haythornthwaite and M. M. Kazmer (Eds.), Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice. NY: Peter Lang, 2004.

Erickson, T. Persistent conversation: An introduction. JCMC 4(4): 1999. Online: http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol4/issue4/ericksonintro.html.

Rafaeli, S. and F. Sudweeks. Networked interactivity. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 2(4): 1997. Online: http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol2/issue4/rafaeli.sudweeks.html.

DeSanctis, G. and M. S. Poole. Capturing the complexity in advanced technology use: Adaptive structuration theory. Organization Science 5(2): 121–47, 1994.

Haythornthwaite, C. Social networks and Internet connectivity effects. Information, Communication & Society 8(2): 125–147, 2005.

Aviv, R., Z. Erlich, and G. Ravid. Mechanisms and architectures of online learning communities. In Kinshuk, L.C., E. Sutinen, D. Sampson, I. Aedo, L. Uden, and E. Kahekonen (Eds.), The 4th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies (ICALT), 400–404. Joensuu, Finland: IEEE, 2004.

Lawton, P. and R. Montague. Teaching and Learning Online: LEEP’s Tribal Gleanings. In C. Haythornthwaite and M. M. Kazmer (Eds.), Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice, 197–213. NY: Peter Lang, 2004.

Hearne, B. G. and A. Nielsen. Catch a cyber by the tale: online orality and the lore of a distributed learning community. In C. Haythronthwaite and M. M. Kazmer (Eds.), Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice, 59–87. NY: Peter Lang, 2004.

Ruhleder, K. Changing patterns of participation: Interactions in a synchronous audio+chat classroom. In C. Haythornthwaite and M. M. Kazmer (Eds.), Learning, Culture and Community in Online Education: Research and Practice, 163–176. NY: Peter Lang, 2004.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24059/olj.v10i1.1769

Copyright (c) 2019 Caroline Haythornthwaite